City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council: Year 2 Q3 update

The Trailblazer will harness the potential of Islamic Religious Settings (IRS) and their communities as levers to tackle the cultural, and structural drivers of ethnic inequalities in childhood obesity in Bradford.

The Childhood Obesity Trailblazer Programme is funded by the Department and Health and Social Care and administered by the Local Government Association. Public Health England is also providing expert support and advice.


  • Following years of intensive and successful community engagement, the draft Bradford Trailblazer Toolkit is now available.
  • Based on the test and learn approach, four place-based groups through Islamic religious settings (IRS) delivered online sessions through lockdown on physical activity and healthy diet which were attended by around 300 people in total.
  • Two of the four IRS were enabled to apply for a locally available physical activity delivery fund (JUMP Awards) to become part of mainstream health promotion programmes - it was the first time that IRS entered into a competitive process of applying for funding aimed at health promotion. They were unsuccessful in receiving the award, however delivered an online session on their own initiative using the learning from participation in the toolkit test and learning session on delivery of physical activity for childhood obesity prevention.
  • The Trailblazer programme lead delivered a session on ‘Ramadan and Healthy Eating’ organised by a local community group ‘The Paradise Academy’ who are working alongside one of the IRS place-based groups. It was viewed by more than 100 local people on YouTube and dozens attended the livestream on Facebook
  • The Bradford Trailblazer research and work has been published in ‘Preventive Medicine Reports’ how religious settings can be used for childhood obesity prevention and has been made part of the evidence and existing body of knowledge by Public Health England in its obesity intelligence data-set and also published to PHE public library.
  • Project team meeting recently took place to refresh team working and re-focus on COTP work next steps.


  • Though programme delivery was built on face-to-face interactions with individuals, communities and organisations, to encourage healthy behaviours for obesity prevention, progress took place by moving to online platforms for programme delivery. Virtual engagement was a new of working for many organisations however they innovated well.
  • Place-based groups required more time to process information than expected; it is important to follow the pace of the groups.
  • Robust governance structure and programme direction are key elements to support continued successful work progress


  • Carrying out the Trailblazer work within the three-year programme timeline.
  • Capacity of the internal COTP team to carry out the work.
  • Staff in mosques and madrassas are generally community volunteers with diverse backgrounds, however most of them are not equipped with training on health promotion initiatives. 
  • Toolkit training work is challenging and requires specialist input.
  • Funder and delivery organisations have rigid and non-flexible systems to engage with local and place-based groups that are not registered as community organisations. Funding via the JUMP Awards was rejected due to the fact that IRS’ were not registered as voluntary and community sector organisations and did not have constitutions or banks accounts.

Next steps

  • Digital co-production methodology developed for the Trailblazer toolkit can be shared with other local authorities.
  • Begin process evaluation on digital co-production of toolkit and delivery of project activities.
  • Refine contents based on learning from test and learn with place-based groups.
  • Toolkit working group will be set up focusing on quality assurance and work to improve toolkit design to take place towards end of the year
  • Train IRS staff in mosques and madrassas on delivery of toolkit content (which is based on learning from test and learn approach with place-based groups)
  • Building capacity of IRS’ as organisations to deliver their own local obesity prevention interventions.
  • Establish funding needs with place-based groups in line with their priorities.
  • Capacity building of place-based groups and working with IRS leads on how to work together collaboratively to secure future funding.
  • Sustainability beyond the end of the programme - COTP work to be built into wider strategic health work and continue to be funded by wider COTP agenda - looking at integrating COTP with Healthy Schools programme so schools can take work forward.
  • City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council will present at an online workshop entitled ‘Early learning in developing toolkits to address childhood obesity’ in early June. The workshop is hosted by the Local Government Association and delivery support partner, Shared intelligence and will provide an opportunity to showcase their experiences of developing the toolkit, the key lessons from the process, and how these toolkits can best be embedded to deliver the greatest impact .
  • City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council to speak at Food Matters event on 30 June; they will give an update and share their experience and learning about their Trailblazer work.